July 2013 Blog

Landscape Ideas for Saving Water:

 Landscape Ideas for Saving Water:

dropletMow your grass at a higher length (so that it is longer.) While there is some debate about whether this saves much water, scalping the grass off at a low height is definitely not good for the vigor and health of the grass. Longer grass has deeper, stronger roots and is more resistant to disease and drought. Most grass should be mowed to a length of no less than 3 inches. See the next item.

dropletDethatch and/or aerate your lawn. Lawn aeration helps assure that the water can penetrate easily into the soil, over time the soil surface can become very compacted and water will not easily penetrate it. Aerating also provides air to the roots of the grass, which is necessary for healthy growth. Thatch build-up on the soil surface under the grass blades can actually repel water. How often you need to dethatch or aerate the lawn depends on the type of grass, whether you remove lawn clippings, the type of soil, the climate, and how much you fertilize. (Fertilizer helps feed the bacteria that break down thatch into humus, but too much fertilizer can cause excessive growth and an increase in the amount of thatch.) Dry spots at the higher areas of the lawn are often the first sign you need to dethatch or aerate the lawn. To check take a hose and lightly water the dry area. If water will not penetrate into the soil quickly you will need to either aerate, dethatch, or both.

Description: dropletReduce the use of fertilizers. Fertilizers encourage rapid growth which results in higher water use. Cut back on fertilizer application amounts to the minimum needed. More frequent application of fertilizer in smaller doses will also help. Try to avoid the green up then yellow off then green up cycle of fertilizer application.

dropletAdd a layer of mulch to shrub beds. A 2 or 3 inches deep layer of mulch, such as wood chips, bark, almond hulls, or even decorative rock, reduces water use and also reduces the number of weeds.

Description: dropletReshape your landscape to use less water. Often a minor change can not only refresh and improve the appearance of your landscape, it can also save water. Look around at your yard layout, especially the size and location of lawns. Can you remove or shrink the size of the lawn areas? Lawn uses much more water than the same size area planted in shrubs or groundcover. Does your lawn go right up to the edge of the house or fences? If it does, you can save water and help your house siding and fences to last longer by reducing the size of the lawn so that it is at least 3 to 4 feet away from fences and walls. Irrigation water spraying on the side of a house or fence can cause all kinds of expensive problems. Try creating a curved meandering edge on the lawn area to mimic the look of a meadow; it gives a much more esthetically pleasing look than a straight edge. Then add a foundation planting of low-growing shrubs with drip irrigation between the lawn and the house or fence. For more design ideas call our professionals here at Lawnscapes  landscape design.

dropletHave you looked at the new synthetic lawns and golf greens? Many of them look very good and are very durable; they are much improved from the old fake grass "carpets" of the past. Synthetic grass isn't going to meet the needs of everyone, but they sure save a lot of water compared to a real grass lawn!

dropletHow about replacing old high-water using shrubs with shrubs that are less thirsty? Call Lawnscapes knowledgeable staff to help you select good plants that use less water for your yard. Use of native plants (many plants you are familiar with may be native) can be particularly water and environmentally friendly, but isn't necessary to get a water saving landscape. You also don't need to go to a "weeds and twigs" look just to save water. While a desert landscape may use almost no water, even a lush-looking landscape that mimics a forest can be designed to use minimal water. If you want a small garden area of high water use plants, locate it in a shady area with protection from wind. Even high-water-use plants will use much less water if they are planted in a shady area where they are protected from strong winds.


Water Savings & Snake Oil

As attention has shifted to saving water, irrigation companies have assigned their marketing departments and sales staff to push for any water saving connection possible that will sell products. “Irrigation specialists” are suddenly everywhere offering services to help you revamp your irrigation system to save water. Lawnscapes has been in the landscape irrigation industry for almost 30 years (since 1982). We have done substantial research and undergone extensive training to understand the best products available and the ones best suited for you and your system.

Unfortunately, along with the many legitimate products and companies a few “snake oil” salesmen are bound to sneak in, trying to turn a quick profit at your expense. In the past few months I have seen a number of questionable claims.

 Before you fork over your money or sign on the line, ask a few questions:

    How does this product work? What feature about it saves water and how? An ad I recently saw in an irrigation trade magazine promoted a product as “water saving” but failed to disclose that the product would save water only in very specific situations found on very few irrigation systems.
    Will this product work with your irrigation system? Will it fit? A client of mine was recently told (by a city agency) he should switch his spray-type sprinklers to the new stream rotor nozzles to save water. These stream rotor nozzles have a minimum radius of 10 feet. His sprinkler system uses sprinklers with a radius of 8 feet and less. If he had made the requested change it would not have saved any water, it would have resulted in massive water waste!
    Does the firm proposing this service have extensive irrigation experience and knowledge? A lot of landscapers who have never installed a sprinkler are suddenly irrigation experts.
    Is this cost effective? Spending $100.00 to save $10.00 worth of water may be admirable but is it a wise move? (Yes, it may be in some situations.)
    Be wary of claims that you will save some large percentage of water. Most of the claims I have seen of 50-80% savings were based on the assumption that you have a really terrible quality irrigation system and that you leave it set to water for the maximum amount all year, even when snow is on the ground. In that case simply turning it off in winter could net you a 50% savings. So beware of blanket claims.